Police Release Images Of SUV Tied To Merrillville Murder
MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (CBS) – Investigators in northwest Indiana are hoping newly released surveillance video footage will help them catch the people who shot and killed a 27-year-old man in November, and left his body in a freezer at a Merrillville meat market.
Andrew Fugate was working at Piatak Meats at 6200 Broadway in Merrillville shortly before 5 a.m. on Nov. 4, when two people went into the store, where they shot and killed him.
Fugate’s body was found about two hours later, inside a meat freezer. He had been shot in the head three times.
Police and Fugate’s family said he was at the store that early every day, because he was the one who prepared the store before it opened every day, by making sausage, slicing meat, and getting the market ready for customers.
A surveillance camera at a neighboring business recorded a white SUV pulling up to the store at 4:48 a.m. that morning, and two men getting out of the vehicle, then going into the store. Ten minutes later, they left the store and drove away on Broadway.
Merrillville Police Chief of Detectives Robert Wiley said security cameras at other businesses on Broadway also recorded that SUV driving south on Broadway before arriving at the store, then heading north on Broadway after the shooting.
Although the images from the video are dark and grainy, and do not show much detail, Wiley said police believe the SUV was a late 1990s or early 2000s model of GM sport utility vehicle, most likely a Chevy Tahoe or GMC Yukon.
Although Wiley said police are not prepared to publicly discuss a possible motive for the shooting, he said he believes it was “personal in nature,” because of the lack of evidence of a robbery or break-in.
“We have some theories,” Wiley said. “Again, nothing that we’re ready to release yet.”
Wiley said there was no forced entry to the exterior of the building, and nothing was missing from the store when Fugate’s body was found. Although an interior office door was damaged, the office itself was not disturbed.
“I believe that lack of evidence of other crimes, the nature of Andrew’s injuries, I believe that this was a personal crime,” Wiley said.
Riley said police were able to collect several “pieces of biological evidence” from the crime scene, which are being processed at the Indiana State Police and Lake County crime labs, but detectives are still waiting for results.
Fugate’s grandmother, Diane Cash, who attended the press conference where police released copies of the surveillance video, said she’s frustrated by the lack of progress in the case, but understands the challenge police face.
“The police are doing the best they can with what they have to work with, I understand that,” she said.
Cash said she hopes the videos help police figure out who killed her grandson.
“We’re not trying to avenge anything, or revenge anything. We just want justice,” she said.
“We just miss him completely,” she said of her late grandson. “It’s like there’s a big hole in the family, a big gap that he just isn’t there.”
Cash said her most cherished memory of Fugate is from his childhood.
“Whenever I’d pull up in front of the house, he’d come out and he’d run down the sidewalk with his little arms up,” she said. “That’s what I miss the most.”
Merrillville police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are offering a combined $10,000 as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Fugate’s killers.
Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force is handling the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Merrillville police at 219-769-3722.